The phone hacking scandal continued to weave its ever-more-intricate web on Monday with new revelations that the News of the World hired a private investigator to spy on two lawyers representing hacking victims.
The BBC reported Monday that a man named Derek Webb was hired to follow lawyers Mark Lewis and Charlotte Harris. Lewis represents the family of murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler, among other victims, and won the notorious £500,000 phone hacking settlement for footballer Gordon Taylor that has gotten James Murdoch into so much trouble. Harris represented football agent Sky Andrew, whose case resulted in Andy Coulson's resignation.
The surveillance, which took place over the past eighteen months, attempted discredit Lewis and Harris. Webb videotaped Lewis' family members on vacation, and an investigator followed Harris and her two children. Lewis called the spying "nothing short of sick."
The BBC wrote that Webb also tried to find evidence of an affair between Lewis and Harris, while the The Guardian, which also broke the news on Monday, had a different account, saying that Webb looked for evidence of an affair between Harris and a solicitor from Manchester, whom she had actually never met before.
Webb said he is speaking out now because he says the shuttered News of the World still owes him money. Webb's newly-revealed role is more evidence of the tabloid's heavy reliance on private investigators like Glenn Mulcaire, who was hired to intercept voicemail messages.
These recent revelations also show the lengths that the News of the World went to to stop phone hacking claims, as far back as over a year before the scandal blew up this summer. According to the Guardian, News International's lawyers also attempted to prevent Lewis from working on phone hacking cases.
News International admitted to the surveillance campaign, calling it "clearly deeply inappropriate" and explaining that it had not been approved by "any current executive at the company."
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